Superstitions Are Nonsense, But We’ve All Got Some

I’m not a religious person. I don’t believe in the idea of a higher being and I regularly scoff at the idea of ghosts and spirits. I’m also the sort of person who refuses to get drawn into the idea of ‘jinxing’ anything. If I had that sort of control over the universe then I’d use my powers for good and would be a multi-millionaire and Manchester United would never win another game of football. The reality is that we can’t control things by what we say, think or Tweet, and yet all of us have convinced ourselves that we can. I’ll give you an example. I have to take four different tablets with my breakfast to help me cope with various ailments. Before the Champions League final I took all four of them in one gulp rather than individually as I’d done previously. Now I always take them as a four and the Reds are flying. Coincidence? Of course it is.

Deep down we know that it’s a nonsense, but we also daren’t take the chance that we’re the reason something has gone wrong. It’s the same reason I wore my Hat, Scarf or a Badge t-shirt that I wore for the Champions League final when we played Manchester City the other day. I felt as though it would somehow bring me and the team some good luck. The blokes I stand next to, Marc and Gordon, and I have a thing where we swap sweets every time the Reds play at Anfield. It means I daren’t not turn up with some sweets lest the Reds fail to get a result because of it. I know that it’s madness, but I also know that I can’t take any chances. I’m the sort of person that happily walks underneath a ladder, don’t care about the presence of black cats and never both to count magpies if I see them, so why is it that I’m so superstitious when it comes to football?

We Want To Feel Like We Have Some Control

When football matches get underway there are only a finite number of people that feel as though they have some control over the final result. Obviously the eleven players plus subs on each team are within that group, as are the managers and people in their backroom staff. The referees and their assistants also have some control, but they should theoretically remain neutral. There’s an argument that the likes of Martin Atkinson and Andre Marriner don’t remain anywhere near neutral enough, but that’s not what this piece is about. Normal football supporters have no such need to remain neutral. When I turn up to Anfield I’m as partisan as a person can get and I don’t shy away from making sure that my colours are nailed firmly to the mast. Even so, I still have a feeling of helplessness that I need to try to rid myself of.

Against Manchester City the other week that manifested itself in me making a booing noise like I was some sort of dying cow every time Pep Guardiola’s side had the ball. I’ll shout at referees, jeer opposition players and sing my heart out to get behind my team, but the feeling of helplessness can still prevail. If I’m watching at home then things are even worse and I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels that way. I’m absolutely convinced, therefore, that following superstitions is a way of taking some sort of ownership of the situation, giving ourselves a feeling of control when there isn’t any. Will it make a difference if I don’t wear my lucky t-shirt or say that Liverpool are playing well and it looks like there’ll only be one winner? Of course it won’t, yet I don’t want to relinquish my slight feeling of control and power in a powerless situation.

You Never Know What Will Make A Difference

I know that all of my superstitions are a nonsense, deep down. Yet, there’s a little tiny bit of me that worries about being right, but I push that down and do my best to ignore it, I’m 99.99% certain that I can’t jinx anything, but that doesn’t mean that I can speak with any certainty about what difference I can make. I don’t buy stuff from the club shop, always doing my best to order from local enterprises like Hat, Scarf Or Badge, Threads For Reds and so on. My support for one of those local shops is giving something small back to the local community, just like when I buy a pie from HomeBaked. Who’s to say that the people that run the shops won’t have an extra spring in their step heading to the ground for match day because of the money I’ve given them? Perhaps their shout of support is the one that one of the players hears that gives them the push they need to score the winning goal.

Maybe when they’re warming up, the players cast their eyes around the Kop and see me, Marc and Gordon exchanging sweets and remember that it’s a community of people that they’re playing for. That information causes them to run a bit faster, hit the ball a bit harder, try that little bit more. In a game of fine margins that could just be the difference. Of course, I know deep down that that’s unlikely to be true, but I certainly have no intention of taking the risk. However much we might feel as though our superstitions are a nonsense, there are all sorts of reasons why we still do them. From people wearing lucky socks through to Jürgen Klopp’s refusal to watch penalties in matches that matter, all of us have something that we do before, during or in the middle of matches in the hope that maybe, just maybe, it will be the difference maker.

That’s why I’ll keep wearing my Madrid t-shirt in the big matches, buying my sweets before home games and doing anything I can think of to help get the Reds over the line. It’s an idiotic thing to be superstitious, but I’m not planning to stop any time soon.

2 Comments
  1. November 22, 2019
    • November 25, 2019

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